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Valencia High Teacher Dies 'Doing What She Loved' On Rock Climb

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A favorite teacher and coach at Valencia High in Placentia passed away in a tragic climbing accident in the Sierra Nevadas.Pat Hadley, who had taught ceramics and coached cross country and track since 1995, was reportedly killed Thursday while rock climbing in the Inyo National Forest.

Valencia High School principal Jim Bell posted a message mourning her loss on the school's web site, saying, "It is with a very heavy heart that we announced the passing of long time VHS staff member Pat Hadley...Pat tragically lost her life doing what she loved. She will be missed and we ask you for your thoughts and prayers for her family."

Rick Lopez, assistant principal at Valencia High, said school officials learned of Hadley's death Friday from her husband. "It's a devastating loss," Lopez told the O.C. Register. "She was a member of our family here."

Hadley was participating in the Sierra Challenge that began August 16 and was scheduled to end Sunday, Bob Burd, an organizer of the event, said in a blog post on Friday.

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I am very sorry to report that Pat Hadley fell to her death yesterday morning on Diamond North. She was climbing alone at the time along the NE Ridge from Baxter Pass. Though rated class 3, the ridgeline is composed of very loose rock over a series of gendarmes and steep chutes. Some hours later her body was spotted by three other participants who reached the summit, about 150ft below the summit on the SE side of the ridge. One of them went down to check her pulse, but found she had probably died instantaneously... All of us are devastated by this tragic loss. Our prayers and thoughts go out to her husband, family and a wide community of friends that will undoubtedly be greatly affected. Over the short time I had known her, I found her to be one of the most accomplished and kindest persons I have had the privilege to meet.

The rest of the Challenge has been canceled out of respect for Pat and her family. You will be sorely missed, Pat. God bless.

Sierra Challenge participants were scheduled to climb 10 peaks in 10 days, including those in northern Yosemite, the Little Lakes area, Bishop Pass Black Divide, Piute Pass, Keyhole Plateau, Red Lakes Trail, Taboose Pass, Center Basin, the Whitney Area and Baxter Pass, Burd said on his blog.